The Healing Power of Fellowship

I spent last weekend with eleven other bereaved moms.

And lest you think, “How sad!”, let me just tell you we had a beautiful time together.

Sure there were tears-how can there not be when talking about the precious children we miss-but there was fun too.

Of course we had somber moments. 

Especially as we lit candles in honor of each child whose light lives on even as their physical presence is denied us.

anchor retreat lit candle

In between Bible study sessions we ate, talked, walked outside and got to know one another.

A game of “Two Truths and a Lie” revealed all kinds of surprises that had us practically falling off our chairs with uproarious laughter.

Even though most of us had never met before, knowing we shared the heartache of child loss drew us together and opened the door to meaningful conversation.

anchor retreat hope

For 72 hours we didn’t have to put our masks on or walk with one foot in the world of the spared and one foot in the world of the deeply wounded. 

We were free-gloriously free-to be real and unguarded.

One of the fun things we did was have a Mary Kay consultant come and do facials and makeup.  I think we kind of shocked her when she went around the circle asking, “So what are you primary make up concerns?” and over half of us said, “I don’t wear make up.”

Poor woman.

anchor retreat mary kay lady (2)

She had no idea that we had long passed the point of faking feelings or saying what someone expects just because they expect it.

I know it was a stretch for some of the moms to make their way to this place they’d never been to and walk into a room full of women they’d never met.

It was a stretch for me to facilitate discussions when I felt I had reached my limit for anything besides staying home for the rest of this year.

But it was worth it.

There is nothing as beautiful as broken hearts gathering together to love, uplift, encourage and listen to one another.

If you have the opportunity and are afraid, please step out. 

Take a chance and link arms with fellow grievers.

I promise you will be glad you did.

circle-of-women

 

Heartache, Healing and Hope

I spent last weekend with eleven other bereaved mamas in a small Christian camp in Mississippi*

I’ll be honest-what sounded like a great idea a few months ago had begun to sound like an awful and intimidating idea about three days before I was supposed to go.

Even though I felt more prepared for this event than the  Through This Valley Conference in October, I was still filled with trepidation at facilitating five sessions over three days with women I had only “met” online.

 

melanie at hhh retreat 2018 last session (2)

I wanted to go.

I wanted to take this next step toward sharing and serving and healing for my own heart.  But I was still more than a little scared.

I am so, so glad I went!

Every single mama who came through the door brought one more measure of grace into that cabin.  Every heart that cracked open and shared spread the sweet aroma of brokenness and compassion rose up to meet it.

hhh retreat pics of kids (2)

Every tear was acknowledged, every sorrow counted, every story heard.

It was beautiful.

I was overwhelmed by the grace, mercy and love that flowed in, around and through the women there.  It was a perfect picture of how God intends the Body of Christ to work!

We were all poured out in service to one another.

No need for a kitchen committee or clean up crew because it was natural to reach out and pitch in.

I am oh, so sorry for the reason that brought us together.  But I am absolutely amazed at the blessing that ran like a river through that place.

hhh retreat hugging cristal (2)It was a river of healing and life.

No one left “healed”But we all left a little better equipped for this journey.

No one received “answers”But we all left with a few more truths tucked into our belts.

Our hearts are knit together because we chose to show up and be vulnerable.

It is a gift I will carry with me wherever I go.

healing power of exchange

 

*If you are looking for a lovely place to hold a children’s camp for your ministry, please consider  Abby Acres Christian Camp Facebook Page

Retreat

As a kid our family made a yearly pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast-back when the beaches were wide open vistas, the water see-through green and the days long and unhurried.

We didn’t spend money on the “attractions” or tourist trap souvenir shops-we got up early to watch the sun rise and spent the remainder of the day back and forth between the beach and the water.

I loved to find a spot that was about waist deep and feel the waves move across my body-up and down, up and down-floating in rhythm to the world’s heartbeat.

But every so often a wave would surprise me, crash over my head unannounced and break the cycle of gentle rocking with a sputter-inducing plunge beneath the salty sea.

As long as the giant waves were few and far between, I could recover, regather my sense of well-being and continue to enjoy the water.

But when the first wave marked a change in the tide or an incoming storm and was followed by more and more of the same, I knew it was time to move toward shore.

I could withstand one or two of these but if there was no chance to catch my breath in between I was going under.

This past week has been a deluge of waves.

Waves of grief,

waves of regret,

waves of disappointment,

waves of discouagement.

No storm clouds on the horizon.  No major life events or grief anniversaries-just a turning of the tide.

And so I find myself retreating a bit.

Backtracking from progress I thought I had made. Retracing steps and repeating cycles I though I had left behind.

I suspect that most of us have weeks like this.

You don’t have to bury a child to beg Jesus to make things whole again-to bring hope to your heart again-to ask Him to calm the storm and save you from destruction.

Ebb and flow.  Waves and calm.  Storms and sunshine.  Life is made up of all of these.

I am confident that Jesus is the Peace-speaker.  He can calm the wind and the waves.

I want to have faith.  I want to learn to call out in trust and not doubt.

I’m working on that and waiting for His Spirit to work on it in me.

But as I wait, I’m going to have to sit on shore for awhile.